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Old November 25th, 2014, 10:59 AM
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Default Quantum - Mixed Feelings

Hello -

Had an opportunity to sail on Quantum last week for a 2-night sampler cruise. I thought there were some "highs" and "lows" as it relates to the experience. Let's start with the "hghs":

1. Ship Features - A Wow Factor. All the things you've read and seen online are true; thought the iFly, NorthStar, SeaPlex, 270 and Bionic Bar all were really cool and brought the Wow.

2. Pool Deck - Probably the best pool deck of any ship in the fleet. The line really did an amazing job building out the solarium, main pool (which is covered) as well as the outdoor pool space. In a warm weather climate; the pool deck is going to be a really strong hit.

3. New Special Dining Options - While I did not eat at all of them, I did dine at Wonderland. The food was exceptional and the experience was right on par with a whole dining experience. A big home run with this dining concept.

4. Cabins - I had a D2 Balcony; the decor, size and feel of the cabin was great, largest standard cabins in the fleet, etc.

So, that were my "highs"; so here were the "lows" that left me a bit disappointed:

1. Zero Wait Staff in Any Lounge - Did not see a single bar server in any lounge/bar; if you wanted a beer or cocktail; you needed to walk up to the bar and stand in line to fight for a bar tender's attention. Now, I don't know if this was due to the fact that they didn't fully staff the bar service for a 2-night sampler cruise; or is this the new model the line has by eliminating (or significantly reducing) bar servers. Part of me thinks that it was purposeful as many more guests are buying these all-inclusive booze packages; so forcing your customer to constantly get up and go to the bar and wait in a lengthy line to get a drink would reduce consumption?

2. Free Dining Places - We ate at "American Icon" and thought the Menu was great/spot on; but execution was really not good. All our food came out luke warm; the service staff seemed to be stretched too thin and just didn't take the time to fill-up the water glasses and make a connection with us as the guest. Again, not sure if it's because they aren't gunning for a cash tip or could it have been them working out the kinks in the system. I think if they could get the temperture of the food right; it would have been a better experience.

3. Royal Esplanade - Mini, Mini, Mini. It was not the typical design where this space is used as the "hub & spoke" of the ship and gathering place for parades and the like. It's a very small, condensed version of the ones on the other ships. Honestly, it was a bit disappointing on how they designed it as I rather enjoyed being able to to stroll the length of it, do some people watching, sit and have a snack, etc. The space doesn't not feel as "grand" as it was designed on the voyager, freedom and oasis class. Probably just something to get used it, but not a wow factor for me.

4. Boarding Process - I thought I'd really enjoy the faster more effective means of boarding; but in execution it has a single flaw. You don't get your Sea Pass Card or Wrist Bands until your cabin becomes available at 1pm. Therefore, if you board in the morning (prior to your cabin being open) and you want to "start your cruise" with a cocktail or beer, the wait staff had no idea how to ring up a beverage without a Sea Pass card. Instead they were asking to see your Set-Sail Pass, writing down via pen/ink a ton of informaiton; then if you had pre-purchased a drink package - the computer system had no means of telling them this; so on day one I had all these beer charges that had to get reversed from Guest Relations later. I honestly felt that the concept of faster boarding became a negative because now I had to fill out a manual form to get a beer for the first 2 hours of my vacation and then had to stop the fun to find my cabin to get my sea pass to turn around and return to having fun. I think I prefer the old process of getting my sea pass at the pier.

5. Windjammer - The new set-up is really nice, but we had zero luck finding a table to sit during multiple visits and a finite number of people was cleaning the dirty tables. This area seemed very understaffed; however, this could be due to the cold weather cruise and the fact that people just lingered at the tables once finished with their meals. Food quality was standard Windjammer Fare.

Overall, I think the ship was great and I'm already booked for Anthem. I just really hope that they shake down all these bugs as without the same degree of service that we've all come to love and enjoy from sailing; you can have the best ship from a design perspective, but if you don't have the right attentive people delivering the customer service experience; it all falls apart.
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Old November 25th, 2014, 01:59 PM
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On my media 2-night cruise I also noted bar waiters were few, but I figured they had given them time off since it was a preview cruise and everything was comped for us. I did see more waiters at Michael's Genuine Pub than I did anywhere else.

My cabin was ready upon boarding (before 1pm) and it appeared they all were, which actually was my understanding, that the cabins on Quantum would be ready by boarding as a normal practice because of the way the cruise cards are distributed. Perhaps it was another example of them short-staffing the 2-night cruises? No excuse for it if you paid for the cruise.
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Old November 26th, 2014, 07:18 AM
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I always avoid these small taster cruises, due to the way staff have to work and don't get the breaks and turn around you get on a week cruise. They either give staff time off and under staff the cruise or they have no time off and aren't really as friendly as they would normally be. Think how hard these crew work and then imagine doing it on a short turn around without your normal breaks.
The amount of crew to passenger ratio should be 1.62/1 passengers for each crew member. This is what Quantum/Anthem will have but short 2/3 days aren't run the same.

Saying this I am doing Anthem for 2 weeks in July and then a 3 day short trip in October. The short trip is for my 40th Birthday and the Crown and Anchor points I get takes me to the next level ready for the next big cruise (After July I'm 2 points short of the next level and if I don't do the short break I will have the next 2 week cruise on the lower level until it is completed).
So I wouldn't normally do it but I will by this time next year, be able to compare the two experiences to see if I am right and by July any hiccups will be well and truly sorted out.
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Old November 26th, 2014, 10:21 AM
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Honestly, I agree that it must be stressful to sail the shorter cruises; however, you'd think that the cruise line would appropriately plan for the demand v. supply from a service perspective. The purpose of the 2-night and 3-night sampler cruises is for travel agent partners and more senior C&A members to experience the ship and honestly market it to either their customers or friends/family. You would think that they want to ensure that the experience (while short) was delivered at the appropriate standards. This was a mixed revenue cruise as well, a mix of travel agents who did not pay anything to sail and paid passengers (such as myself); so if I had got my trip for free; perhaps I'd be less sensitive; however, there were a significant number of paid passengers onboard. I'm certainly not throwing the baby out with the bathwater here; I think they can fix the staffing issue as well as the other operational bugs as they grow and learn from the first few months of actual operation.
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Old November 26th, 2014, 11:56 AM
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That's a valid point, that even if it was a free cruise they should have had staff falling all over the guests. It's odd really, because all the Royal Caribbean brass was aboard the ship start to finish when it arrived in Bayonne from the transatlantic. Richard Fain was everywhere on my my cruise it seemed, yet if I wanted a drink in the Solarium I had to go join the crowd at the bar. I think we had at least a thousand Cruise Planners agents aboard. You could tell by the bright neon green shirts and windbreakers they wore (it looked like a school crossing guard convention).

For example, we had essentially no cabin service. My attendant emptied the trash and picked up used towels but didn't replace them since I still had one hand towel, bath towel, and wash cloth on the rack. She didn't turn down the bed. She knocked and then entered my cabin twice while I was inside to deliver the next day's Cruise Compass and some other paperwork on the second visit, as though it was 'I get the rest of the evening off as soon as I deliver this stuff'. And of course there was no room service ordering, which is something that you'd think they'd want the media and agents to sample so they could report about it positively.
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Old November 26th, 2014, 12:02 PM
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I think it was all about the "wow" of the ship and service was probably not a focus. The rubber will meet the road when the "real" revenue cruise reviews start coming back as this week was the very first 8 night voyage to/from the bahamas. Hopefully they refreshed and full staffed; will be interested to see what type of review is returned.
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Old November 26th, 2014, 04:11 PM
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It is kind of strange that they didn't fully staff the ship, but hopefully when the full paying passengers arrive, they will have more. At least I sure hope so, that is one of the reasons I do enjoy cruising on Royal Caribbean is the excellent service I always find.
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